Overweight health expert stars in TV series to keep the nation fit while in lockdown

An obese health expert has spoken of his shame in telling diabetic patients to lose weight when he himself weighs in at more than 20st and suffers from the condition himself.

Leading radiographer Kevin Jones, 53, who regularly works at the Maelor Hospital in Wrexham,  is one of the stars of a new TV series focusing on physical health and mental well-being while self-isolating during the coronavirus pandemic.

The father-of-three, who has also helped keep world class sportspeople including members of the British Olympic team in tip top condition, jumped at the chance of being a health leader for the third series of the popular lifestyle show, FFIT Cymru, has started on S4C at 9pm on Tuesday (April 7).

The show’s format has had to be completely changed due to the restrictions caused by the Covid-19 crisis.

Kevin  says his personal goal is to reverse his Type 2 diabetes after promising his wife, Pam, he would get his health back on track.

He said: “I work with diabetic people often and I feel like a hypocrite because I have to tell them to lose weight while I am myself a Type 2 diabetic.

“Patients need to weigh under 21st to be eligible for treatment with the equipment I use and I am only just under the limit at 20st 5Ibs.

“This will be the third series of FFIT Cymru but due to social distancing and self-isolation it’s impossible to gather for runs and exercise events as in previous series so what we are doing is showing how you can work on both your physical and mental well-being while in lockdown.

“The support from the FFIT Cymru team has been amazing. I’m given a food and an exercise plan and regular phone or Skype interviews with the dietician, physical fitness instructor and phycologist. But the difference in just a few days is amazing.”

Kevin, who lives in Ruthin, works in 50 hospitals across the UK using lithotripsy, ultra-sound waves to break up kidney stones without the need for the patient to undergo surgery.

According to the self-confessed chocoholic, the invitation from Caernarfon-based independent TV company Cwmni Da  came at just the right time.

He said: “I have been embarrassed and I suppose a bit ashamed for a long time. I’d have patients in and would have to ask their weight as our examination table is only safe for 21st.

“I’d have patients there who were the same size as me and I’d have to tell them they needed to lose weight due to diabetes. It was shocking and hypocritical .

“Over the years I’ve done a lot of work with elite athletes and sport stars. I’ve worked with many organisations including the British Olympic team, Warrington Wolves, Celtic Football Club and even with horse vets at the world-famous Godolphin Stable using sound waves to repair damaged muscles, tendinitis a  well as using low energy shock waves to create new tissue and develop wound healing.

“ I always feel embarrassed working with these elite athletes when I’m as big as I am even though I’m generally old enough to be their dad. I’ve known for a long time it was time to do something.

“I started to get symptoms which I knew was Type 2 Diabetes – hot flushes in my feet, deteriorating eyesight and even I developed a small cataract on one eye as well as an increased need to go to the toilet to urinate. All classic signs of diabetes.

“A few days in and I can feel the difference. I have been given a food plan and it’s amazing, it’s really healthy food and everything has to be weighed and the big portions have gone. I now have a calorie total for each meal but the food is so tasty.

That’s a big difference to my old lifestyle. Travelling around the country as I do with work I’d stop at a garage for fuel and face Temptation Alley, the walk to the tills with chocolate bars either side.

“Now, I’m doing a seven mile static cycle ride every day in my house as I can’t go out due to the Coronavirus restrictions. That’s followed up with 1,300 steps on the step machine.

“Amazingly the sugar level in my blood is dropping like a stone. It’s frankly amazing.

“I want to get down to perhaps 15st and which would make a huge difference. You can’t cure diabetes but you can keep it at bay.

“FFIT Cymru can help guide other people across Wales to be fitter and healthier despite social isolation due to this horrible virus.

“We are facing unique social restrictions on what we can and can’t do due to this virus but we hope to show that you can still work on things indoors, it’s still possible to make a difference.

“It’s not just a physical effect we are talking about but mental well-being too. I’m having Skype meetings with the dietician, fitness instructor and phycologist and, in my role as a FFIT Cymru leader, I’ll be passing on that help and knowledge through the series.”

FFIT Cymru executive producer Llion Iwan, explained: “FFIT Cymru has always been a popular show. Essentially it’s about taking a group of people who want to transform their lives and showing them how they can improve through healthy eating, improved fitness and improved mental health.

“The challenge has been taking what was a very successful format involving lots of face to face contact and changing it so everything is about being isolated at home and using technology to converse.

“It has been a massive challenge but we have chosen our leaders well and we will hopefully see, over a two month period, how they transform their health by following a strict food and fitness plan.

“We have three top experts in dietician Sioned Quirke, personal trainer Rae Carpenter and psychologist Dr Ioan Rees who will, through technology, share advice with the leaders, viewers and presenter Lisa Gwilym in the studio.

“Chef and Great British Bake Off contestant, Becca Lyne-Pirkis, will be contributing to the food plan each week while sharing some easy-to-follow, healthy recipes which can be re-created at home.

“It’s going to be really interesting to see how our leaders and their families cope adjusting to a new healthy lifestyle as we all adapt to the changes forced on us by the Coronavirus pandemic.”

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